Skiers rout state champs, rally past Rams
Good teams find ways to win when the odds are stacked against them. Five games into the season, Aspen’s varsity hockey team appears to be among the best in the state.Take Saturday afternoon in Colorado Springs, where the Skiers (4-1) had every reason to pack it in against Rampart after going down two goals in the first period.The day before, the Skiers drove all the way to Superior to drop defending state champion Peak to Peak, 6-1, then got back on the road and arrived in the Springs after midnight. If that wasn’t enough of a disadvantage, 10 Skiers players woke up just after 6 a.m. Saturday to take their ACTs nearby.The group didn’t get to the arena until 12:45 p.m. for a game that started at 1:30. The Skiers were also without the services of junior Tyler Moore, who injured his shoulder in Friday’s win.It all added up to a bunch of good excuses for giving in. But a week after a frustrating 2-1 loss to Steamboat Springs in the King of the Mountain tournament final, Aspen wasn’t looking for excuses – just enough to win.Senior Nicky Anastas scored Aspen’s first goal late in the first period off an assist from Ryder Fyrwald, then Matt Butler put in the equalizer in the second period off assists from Anastas and Tommy Mines. In the third, Fyrwald gave Aspen its first lead – and the win – when he put a pass from Simon Dolginow in the back of the net. “Physically and mentally we were drained a little bit,” Skiers coach Al Butler said. “They hung in it. They didn’t the have the jump in their legs from the night before, but they slowly worked their way back into it. It was a good win.”Skiers goalie Codi Hornburg had a huge game, holding Rampart scoreless after the two early goals and finishing with 24 saves.Butler said Friday’s game was the complete opposite of Saturday’s. In Superior, the Skiers showed up fresh and dominated from the first faceoff, outshooting Peak to Peak 40-12, and pouring in three goals in the second and another three in the third. Peak to Peak, a team that lost the second- and third-highest goal-scorers in the state from last year to graduation, managed its lone goal in the second period.Hornburg had 11 saves, while Anastas and Fyrwald had two goals each and Matt Cooper and Andy Conarroe had one apiece.”Our team was definitely prepared mentally and physically to play that game,” Butler said. “We came out and took it to them right from the get-go and didn’t let up.”Butler added that the first Front Range swing of the season for his team was crucial to a get a sense of where his outfit stands for the rest of the season. The Skiers face two more big tests this week, starting with a rematch against Battle Mountain at Lewis Ice Arena at 7 tonight, then by a rematch Friday night at Steamboat Springs. The Skiers dumped the Huskies, 3-1, in the first game of the season for both teams, but Butler expects a much closer contest tonight.After opening the season ranked second in the state, Battle Mountain (3-2) lost two of its first three games but has since won two straight. The latter was a 5-1 rout of Kent Denver, which blasted Rampart, 7-2, in its opener.”I expect a different team and a different game,” Butler said. “With it being our first home game, I know our guys will be fired up.”Butler pointed out that Aspen hammered Battle Mountain in their first meeting last season before a 2-2 tie in the second game.The likely loss of Moore for the next two games has forced Butler to reshuffle his lines, but that’s OK as long as the junior comes back healthy after the holiday break, Butler said.The initial diagnosis was a partially separated shoulder, but Butler hadn’t heard any new news from Moore’s visit with a doctor Monday.”Right now it’s a question of how long he’ll be out,” Butler said. “I’d rather have him out for this game and then Steamboat, and then let him recover when we’re off for two weeks. It’s better to have him 100 percent after Christmas. We want him for the long haul, not the short.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.orgThe Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.
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